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Howth 17 Nationals Won By The Mountainy Man Crewed by Heather & Holly

9th August 2020
A gybe rounding at the lee mark could be doubly difficult with the Howth 17s insistence that their spinnakers are one-sided, but Shane O’Doherty and his team on the 2020 Champion Pauline have got it to perfection despite being hounded by light-air flyer Rita (No 1, John Curley and Marcus Lynch,) and defending champion Deilginis (No 11) A gybe rounding at the lee mark could be doubly difficult with the Howth 17s insistence that their spinnakers are one-sided, but Shane O’Doherty and his team on the 2020 Champion Pauline have got it to perfection despite being hounded by light-air flyer Rita (No 1, John Curley and Marcus Lynch,) and defending champion Deilginis (No 11) Photo: Conor Lindsay

The Howth 17 Nationals 2020 saw five good races sailed – a pier starter on Friday evening, and four committee boat open water races on Saturday – with the sunny nor’east wind holding up enough for the four open water contests to provide some cracking racing, although it never developed into the hearty sea breeze which might have been expected.

But even with the gentler conditions, there was still just enough power for proper closely-contested sport, and the best competitive showing saw everyone in the fleet of eleven across the finish line within three minutes, with some private contests separated by less than five seconds.

Aura (1898, Ian Malcolm), Pauline (1900, Shane O’Doherty & partners), Gladys (1907, Eddie Ferris & Ian Byrne), Orla (2018, sailed by Gerry Comerford) and Deliginis (1907, Massey, Toomey & Kenny)At times the wind looked like it was on its last gasp instead of developing into a decent sea breeze, but always it returned with just enough strength for close racing. Age comparison in close quarters with (left to right) Aura (1898, Ian Malcolm), Pauline (1900, Shane O’Doherty & partners), Gladys (1907, Eddie Ferris & Ian Byrne), Orla (2018, sailed by Gerry Comerford) and Deliginis (1907, Massey, Toomey & Kenny). Photo: Conor Lindsay

Pauline, Rosemary and Sheila, with topsail of Deiliginis beyond Hazy days of summer – Howth may have developed since 1898, but the Seventeens remain resolutely unchanged. Photo shows Pauline, Rosemary and Sheila, with topsail of Deiliginis beyond. Photo: Trish Nixon

Overall winner, with the final race the decider, was Shane O’Doherty sailing the 1900-built Pauline. He’s known to some as The Mountainy Man, as he runs an outfit called Shane’s Howth Hikes, which in normal times (remember them?) takes visitors to the peninsula on quite energetic walking tours (there’s an electric bike option as well) of the Hill of Howth and its more extraordinary features, most of which the locals take for granted or don’t even know about.

Yet even in the busiest visitor times in non-lockdown years, Shane always keep Saturdays free for sailing while a colleague looks after the tours, for he regards racing with the Howth 17s as an essential part of the Howth experience, and it re-invigorates his love of the place.

HYC Commodore Ian Byrne and Eddie Ferris with Gladys (14) look to have done well with the pin startHYC Commodore Ian Byrne and Eddie Ferris with Gladys (14) look to have done well with the pin start, but others had taken over the lead by the finish. Photo: Trish Nixon

For now, that love is total and unquestioning, as conditions suited the Clancy of Kingstown-built Pauline to perfection for the Championship, and she finished two points clear – after that final race decider - of the defending champion Deilginis (Massey, Toomey, Kenny) of 1907 vintage, with Dave Mulligan’s 21st Century “new” boat Sheila third, and another 1907 boat from Kelly of Portrush, the George Curley, Davy Jones and David Potter-owned Rosemary, notching fourth with a scorecard which included the win in Race 4 and a third in Race 5.

Rosemary (George Curley, Davy Jones & David Potter) wins Race 4 from Sheila (Dave Mulligan)Rosemary (George Curley, Davy Jones & David Potter) wins Race 4 from Sheila (Dave Mulligan). Rosemary looked to be a write-off after Storm Emma’s shoreside damage in March 2018, but ace Fingal boatbuilder Larry Archer worked miracles to bring her back to life. Photo: Trish Nixon

Lambay beyond – as unspoilt as the most remote Hebridean island – while light-wind flyer Rita (No 1, John Curley & Marcus Lynch) tests an ultra-flexible topsail yardLambay beyond – as unspoilt as the most remote Hebridean island – while light-wind flyer Rita (No 1, John Curley & Marcus Lynch) tests an ultra-flexible topsail yard. Rita won the first race, but an uneven performance thereafter kept her out of the frame, and she was fifth overall on scratch. Photo: Conor Lindsay

While the Howth Seventeens may be the world’s oldest one-design keelboat class, particularly when it’s further qualified by still having the original rig and with the added restriction of all the boats being in the one harbour, nevertheless their personnel lineup is encouragingly supra-national and broad-minded in its outlook.

Thus Shane O’Doherty’s partners in the boat are Michael Kenny -who couldn’t be there as he’s based in Warsaw - and Sutton Dinghy Club Commodore Ian McCormick, who was away in West Cork on a Sportsboat campaign. But being The Mountainy Man, the skipper recruited on his hillside with some heather (Wayne Heather to be precise) and some holly (his daughter Holly O’Doherty). With Brendan O’Brien on the strength to add a surname of unimpeachable Irish sailing distinction, it was all systems go for success for Pauline, with the skipper revealing further insight at the outdoor prize-giving, as his T-shirt told us “Harbours rot ships and men”.

winning skipper Shane O’Doherty (left) with crew Wayne Heather, Holly O’Doherty and Brendan O’BrienThe Mountainy Man and his heather and holly……winning skipper Shane O’Doherty (left) with crew Wayne Heather, Holly O’Doherty and Brendan O’Brien. Photo Howth 17 class
One of the secrets of the Howth Seventeens’ longevity is their determined application of a parallel handicap system to ensure that other boats emerge out of the cannon fodder division to get their place in the sun. It was very well demonstrated this time round as the winner was another Clancy 1900 boat, Anita owned by David O’Connell (Phibsborough) in partnership with helm Muige Karasahin (she’s from Istanbul), with crewing by Elizabeth Jakobson (from Latvia) and Susan Morgan (Sutton).

Anita – re-built by Paul Robert and his team at Les Ateliers de l’Enfer in Douarnenez in Brittany in 2019 after being destroyed by Storm Emma in Howth in March 2018 – was certainly finding her feet as the series progressed, and logged a scratch second in the last race. But even with that, she was sixth overall on scratch in the final tally, yet that became a clear win with the handicaps in an interesting case of sailing for Byzantium within sight of a house where the family of W B Yeats lived for two years in the early 1880s.

Anita (D. O’Connell & M Karasahin) was overall winner of the handicap divisionSailing for Byzantium…..with Muige Karasahin of Istanbul on the helm, Anita (D. O’Connell & M Karasahin) was overall winner of the handicap division. Virtually a total loss after Storm Emma in March 2018, Anita was re-built by Paul Robert’s Les Atelier de l’Enfer (The Workshops of Hell) in Douarnenez in Brittany Photo: Conor Lindsay
The clear division between scratch and handicap continued down the listing, with Tom Houlihan’s Zaida taking second, though there was then an element of overlap as Rosemary (fourth on scratch) was handicap third while scratch winner Pauline was fourth, the double results give everyone at least one good race.

As for sailing enjoyment in a summer when travel is restricted, the weather was such that you could find whatever you wanted off Howth, as the view to the east was of Irelands Eye which looks like a piece of Connemara transferred to the Irish Sea, to the north Lambay would not look amiss in the Hebrides, to the west the dunes of Portmarnock are reminiscent of the Vendee, and to the south with a fore-shortened lens against the strong sunshine, you could be looking at the French Riviera as the narrowed eyes take in the flank of the Hill of Howth and the Wicklow Mountains beyond.

 
Howth 17s Nationals 2020 (Scratch) Results

1st Pauline (S. O’Doherty, I. McCormick & M. Kenny): (4),3,1,3,1: 8pts; 2nd Deilginis (Massey family, M.Toomey, K, Kenny) 3,1,2,4, (5): 10 pts; 3rd Sheila (D.Mulligan) 2,(7),4,2,6: 14pts; 4th Rosemary (G, Curley, D. Jones, D.Potter) 16pts.

Howth 17 Handicap

1st Anita (D. O’Connell & M. Karasahin), (2), 1,1,1,1: 4 pts; 2nd Zaida (T. Houlihan) 1,2,2,2, (3) 7 pts; 2rd Rosemary (Curley, Jones, Potter) (3), 3,3,3,2: 11 pts; 4th Pauline (O’Doherty, McCormick, Kenny) (7), 6,4,5,4.

Hill of Howth  and sailing Who needs to go away on holiday when the view southward, from the race area past the Hill of Howth and on towards the Sugarloaf in the Wicklow Mountains, could pass as the French Riviera? Photo: Conor Lindsay

Published in Howth 17, Howth YC
WM Nixon

About The Author

WM Nixon

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William M Nixon has been writing about sailing in Ireland for many years in print and online, and his work has appeared internationally in magazines and books. His own experience ranges from club sailing to international offshore events, and he has cruised extensively under sail, often in his own boats which have ranged in size from an 11ft dinghy to a 35ft cruiser-racer. He has also been involved in the administration of several sailing organisations.

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Howth 17 information

The oldest one-design keelboat racing class in the world is still competing today to its original 1897 design exclusively at Howth Yacht club.

Howth 17 FAQs

The Howth 17 is a type of keelboat. It is a 3-man single-design keelboat designed to race in the waters off Howth and Dublin Bay.

The Howth Seventeen is just 22ft 6ins in hull length.

The Howth 17 class is raced and maintained by the Association members preserving the unique heritage of the boats. Association Members maintain the vibrancy of the Class by racing and cruising together as a class and also encourage new participants to the Class in order to maintain succession. This philosophy is taken account of and explained when the boats are sold.

The boat is the oldest one-design keelboat racing class in the world and it is still racing today to its original design exclusively at Howth Yacht club. It has important historical and heritage value keep alive by a vibrant class of members who race and cruise the boats.

Although 21 boats are in existence, a full fleet rarely sails buy turnouts for the annual championships are regularly in the high teens.

The plans of the Howth 17 were originally drawn by Walter Herbert Boyd in 1897 for Howth Sailing Club. The boat was launched in Ireland in 1898.

They were originally built by John Hilditch at Carrickfergus, County Down. Initially, five boats were constructed by him and sailed the 90-mile passage to Howth in the spring of 1898. The latest Number 21 was built in France in 2017.

The Howth 17s were designed to combat local conditions in Howth that many of the keel-less boats of that era such as the 'Half-Rater' would have found difficult.

The original fleet of five, Rita, Leila, Silver Moon, Aura and Hera, was increased in 1900 with the addition of Pauline, Zaida and Anita. By 1913 the class had increased to fourteen boats. The extra nine were commissioned by Dublin Bay Sailing Club for racing from Kingstown (Dún Laoghaire) - Echo, Sylvia, Mimosa, Deilginis, Rosemary, Gladys, Bobolink, Eileen and Nautilus. Gradually the boats found their way to Howth from various places, including the Solent and by the latter part of the 20th century they were all based there. The class, however, was reduced to 15 due to mishaps and storm damage for a few short years but in May 1988 Isobel and Erica were launched at Howth Yacht Club, the boats having been built in a shed at Howth Castle - the first of the class actually built in Howth.

The basic wooden Howth 17 specification was for a stem and keel of oak and elm, deadwood and frames of oak, planking of yellow pine above the waterline and red pine below, a shelf of pitch pine and a topstrake of teak, larch deck-beams and yellow pine planking and Baltic spruce spars with a keel of lead. Other than the inclusion of teak, the boats were designed to be built of materials which at that time were readily available. However today yellow pine and pitch pine are scarce, their properties of endurance and longevity much appreciated and very much in evidence on the original five boats.

 

It is always a busy 60-race season of regular midweek evening and Saturday afternoon contests plus regattas and the Howth Autumn League.

In 2017, a new Howth 17 Orla, No 21, was built for Ian Malcolm. The construction of Orla began in September 2016 at Skol ar Mor, the boat-building school run by American Mike Newmeyer and his dedicated team of instructor-craftsmen at Mesquer in southern Brittany. In 2018, Storm Emma wrought extensive destruction through the seven Howth Seventeens stored in their much-damaged shed on Howth’s East Pier at the beginning of March 2018, it was feared that several of the boats – which since 1898 have been the very heart of Howth sailing – would be written off. But in the end only one – David O’Connell’s Anita built in 1900 by James Clancy of Dun Laoghaire – was assessed as needing a complete re-build. Anita was rebuilt by Paul Robert and his team at Les Ateliers de l’Enfer in Douarnenez in Brittany in 2019 and Brought home to Howth.

The Howth 17 has a gaff rig.

The total sail area is 305 sq ft (28.3 m2).

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